10 Best Burpee Alternatives (Low Impact Substitutes)

Burpees are an effective and challenging whole-body exercise. If you're performing them regularly, then you'll see a dramatic improvement in your strength and fitness, but if you're a beginner, then you may struggle to do a complete set.  

This could mean that you’re stopping before you should and not getting the full benefit of the exercise. But don't worry, in this guide, we'll introduce some burpee alternatives to incorporate into your routine, so you get a great workout every time. 

Burpees are a full-body exercise that work all your major muscle groups. The best burpee alternatives still hit the same areas of your body, but with a lower intensity, making them easier to perform.

Most of the alternative exercises mimic the same but break it down into parts so it's more manageable. This lets you focus on one area at a time until you feel comfortable performing a full burpee.   

Here are the best burpee alternatives to try in the gym or at home: 

1. Jumping Jacks 

Jumping jacks are easy to perform, but they really get your heart rate up and help you burn a lot of calories. They're a full-body exercise that engages all the same muscles as a burpee does but focuses particularly on your arms, shoulders, glutes, and core.

Anyone can do a jumping jack, and you don't need any equipment, so they work well as an alternative to a traditional burpee. 

Start by standing tall with your feet together and hands by your sides. Bend your knees slightly and jump up into the air spreading your legs and arms out at the same time, so your body forms an X shape.

Land in this position and then jump up again and return to starting position. Start by aiming for 30 seconds of high-intensity reps and increase as your fitness levels rise.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

Jumping jacks are easy to modify. To add some variety to your workout, you can try jumping jack squats or pick up a couple of very small weight plates tom increase the resistance.

Related Article - Best Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

jumping jacks

2. Squat Jumps 

Squats are known as one of the essential exercises to improve your strength and fitness, and squat jumps are a variation that allow you to push your body even harder.

They mimic part of the burpee motion and work your glutes, lower back, hamstrings, and core. They help you build strength in the same way burpees do, and they’re a useful alternative exercise for beginners or those carrying an upper-body injury. 

Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Brace your core, and in an explosive motion, jump upwards, keeping your arms by your sides. Land softly and move back to starting position. Try to perform squat jumps quickly to elevate your heart rate and burn more calories.

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

Make sure you explode upwards using your legs and driving through your heels for maximum quad engagement.

Read Also - Dumbbell Vs Barbell Squat

Squat Jumps

3. Jumping Rope 

Athletes use jump rope exercises to improve their whole-body strength and cardio. There are a lot of jump rope variations, but the core movement engages most of the same areas as burpees do.

Jumping rope workouts are good for beginners because you can move at your own pace, but they are high impact, so they may not be suitable for everyone. However, exercising regularly with a jump rope will improve your conditioning and help you improve your fitness so you can perform a burpee.  

Start by standing with a jumping rope handle in both hands and the rope on the floor. Make sure that the handles stretch up to your chest when you're standing on the rope, and adjust if needed.

Next, rotate your wrists to spin the rope around you and jump gently up as it passes under you. Keep your knees bent throughout, and remember that you only need to jump a few inches off the floor at a time. Try to keep a steady rhythm and aim for 1-2 minute sets when you’re getting started.

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

Keep in mind, this exercise is not about the number of reps you do. I recommend setting a timer for 30 seconds and jumping rope with max effort followed by a rest period of 30-60 seconds.

Related Article - How Long Should A Jump Rope Be?

jump rope

4. Dumbbell Or Kettlebell Thrusters 

A dumbbell or kettlebell thruster is regarded as one of the ultimate full-body exercises, so it makes sense that it's a burpee alternative. Thrusters engage all your major muscle groups, but there’s no impact on your body.

This makes it a viable alternative for those who struggle with traditional burpee workouts. Kettlebell thrusters are particularly effective in helping you develop your hamstrings, glutes, quads, lats, triceps, and upper back.  

Start with the dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand (or hold it in both hands if you prefer), and then squat down low. Next, push upwards in an explosive movement and as your body rises, raise the weight up above you until your arm is fully outstretched.

Pause for a second and then lower the weight back down until you’re back in the starting position. You’re best using a low or medium weight for this exercise so you can perform lots of reps and burn more calories.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

One important thing to remember is to keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the entire movement.

Learn More - Dumbbells Vs Kettlebells 

Dumbbell Or Kettlebell Thrusters

5. Plyo Lunges 

Plyo lunges are sometimes referred to as jumping lunges and are often used as a burpee substitute because they’re an effective cardio move you can do at home.

They engage your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core, helping to improve your overall stability and coordination. They can be a little challenging for beginners, so you may need to start with regular lunges until you’re more comfortable with the movement.  

Start with one foot in front of you and one foot behind you. Bend your knees into a deep lunge and lower your body towards the floor. Lean forward slightly, engage your core, and explosively jump upwards, launching your whole body into the air.

While in the air, switch places with your legs so that one moves forward and one backward. Land softly and then lunge down to go straight into the next rep.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

If you struggle to keep your balance during this exercise, break down the movement into smaller parts and perfect each stage before continuing.

Related Article - Benefits Of Lunges 

Plyo Lunges

6. Mountain Climbers 

A good variation on a standard plank is a mountain climber. They shred your core and engage your lower back and legs, giving many of the same benefits that you would get from burpees.

Mountain climbers are easy to perform and well suited for beginners, but as you become more experienced, you can keep increasing the intensity to increase your heart rate. These are some of the best home cardio exercises to burn a lot of calories quickly.

Start in the plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Pull one knee up into your chest and then push it back down before repeating the movement with the other knee. Keep alternating this movement for as long as you can. If you're just starting mountain climbers, then it can start to burn at first; try to push through to get the most from the exercise.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

If you want to target your obliques, bring your knee up towards your elbow when doing mountain climbers.

See Also - Best Gym Mats For Home Gyms

Mountain Climbers

7. Plank with Shoulder Tap 

Planks are an excellent way to strengthen your core, hips, and lower back, and when you incorporate shoulder taps, you also engage your shoulders and arms.

This exercise works a lot of the same muscles as burpees but without as much movement, making them easier for beginners. Performing them regularly will help strengthen your body and help improve your conditioning so you can perform other exercises, like burpees, in the future.

Start in the plank position as if you're about to lower yourself into a push-up. Tense your core and shift your weight slightly to one side. Lift one hand off the floor and reach up to touch your opposite shoulder.

Lower your hand back down to the floor and then repeat with your other side. To get the most benefit from this exercise, make sure your movement is slow and controlled throughout.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

If you find this exercise too easy, you can lift one leg and the opposite arm straight out and repeat on both sides.

Learn More - Best Side Plank Alternatives

Plank Shoulder Taps

8. Kettlebell Swings 

Kettlebell swings are an effective burpee alternative because they work your whole body and give you a great cardio workout that burns a lot of calories. They also help improve your overall balance, and by using heavier weights, you can push your body harder than you would with a regular burpee.

Kettlebell swings are a bit challenging at first, especially if you're a kettlebell novice, but you should master the movement quite quickly. There's no impact with this exercise, so it's a better option than burpees for those with weak joints.  

Start with your feet hip-width apart and a kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Lean forward, engage your core, and grab the kettlebell. Lift it off the floor and swing it backwards between your legs. Engage your shoulders and shift your weight as the kettlebell swings underneath you.

As it reaches the back of the arc, shift your weight forward and swing the kettlebell back upwards. Raise it up to chest height and then lower back down to repeat the swing again. Make sure you keep the movement controlled and start with low weights until you’re comfortable with the movement.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

Remember to drive with your hips and legs when bringing the kettlebell up towards eye level. Don't rely solely on your arms to create momentum.

Related Articles

Kettlebell Swings

9. Medicine Ball Slams 

Medicine ball slams mimic the up and down movement of a burpee and engage many of the same muscles. They are easier to perform than burpees because you don’t need as much flexibility, but you will need a weighted medicine ball.

These slams will improve your overall strength and can be used as an effective cardio workout to boost your metabolism. They’re also really fun and a good way to get rid of some pent-up aggression after a stressful day. 

Start by standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart and a medicine ball in your hands. Squat down low and then, in one explosive movement, push through the balls of your feet into a standing position, moving your arms upwards at the same time until the medicine ball is above your head.

Use your arms to throw the medicine ball down to the floor in front of you as hard as you can. Squat down low to pick up the ball, and then return to starting position to complete the movement. 

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

This exercise is an excellent stress reliever. Who doesn't like slamming a ball into the floor as hard as they can? It also boosts your muscular endurance.

Read Also - Slam Ball Vs Medicine Ball

Medicine Ball Slams

10. Explosive Push-Ups 

Explosive push-ups will help you develop a stronger body and are often by those who can’t quite manage a full burpee yet. They primarily work your triceps, chest, core, and back muscles, and will raise your heart rate if you perform a lot of reps quickly. This will allow you to burn calories while making significant strength gains.  

Start in the push-up position on the floor. Lower your body down as far as you can go, pause for a second, and then push up explosively, launching your upper body off the floor. Land in the push-up position and then repeat the movement. Aim for 10-15 reps and increase as your fitness improves.  

Garage Gym Pro Tip!

This movement might be too difficult for some. You can modify it by letting your knees rest on the floor. This movement can also be tough on the wrists, so you might want to get some wrist wraps. Check out our favorite wrist wraps here!

Explosive Push-Ups

Will Burpee Substitutes Work As Many Muscles As Burpees?

A burpee works many upper and lower body muscles, including your glutes, quads, core, shoulders, chest, triceps, and calves. These are crucial for strengthening your whole body, and that’s why burpees are used by people of all abilities.  

Burpee substitutes vary, and many won't target as many muscles as a full burpee because they're only replicating part of the movement. Some engage your whole body, but some focus on one particular area to really improve the strength of targeted muscle groups. By focusing on specific areas, you will improve the overall functionality of your body, and it will become easier to perform burpees.  

A good way to ensure you’re still engaging as many muscles as you would with a burpee is to take several of these alternative exercises and develop your own routine. This will help you to improve your strength and conditioning across your whole body and stop you from getting too used to one type of movement.  


Benefits Of Burpee Alternative Exercises 

Burpee alternatives offer a few key benefits: 

  • Low Impact 
    Burpees involve a lot of movement and can put a strain on your joints. These low impact burpee alternatives help relieve pressure across your body and are much less taxing to perform. This makes them accessible for beginners and a better option for those with limited mobility.  
  • Strength Gains 
    Many of the burpee alternatives target specific muscle groups and incorporate weights into the movement. This will lead to greater gains in these areas compared to performing traditional burpees.   
  • Effective Cardio
    Burpee alternatives push your body hard and get your heart rate up. This allows you to burn more calories and increases your metabolic rate, so you continue to burn calories once your workout is over. Some of these exercises will be more effective cardio than regular burpees, and by mixing it up with different movements, you’ll shock your body and burn more calories each session.  

Frequently Asked Burpee Alternatives Questions 

Do burpees burn belly fat? 

Yes, burpees can help burn belly fat more quickly than other cardio. They also help to strengthen your core so your belly will start to tone up more quickly.   

Do burpees count as cardio? 

Yes, burpees are primarily a cardio exercise but also help strengthen your body.  

Which of these alternative exercises is the easiest to perform?  

Jumping jacks are probably the easiest burpee alternative to perform and are suitable for people of all fitness levels.  

Which of these alternative exercises is the most difficult?  

Plyo lunges (jumping lunges) are quite difficult to perform because they require strength, fitness, and coordination. Beginners might struggle with them and may need to start with regular lunges.  


Conclusion

Burpees are effective, but they’re also tough to perform and aren’t suitable for everyone. By replacing regular burpees with some of the alternatives on this list, you can still get the most from your workout with less risk of strain or injury. Hopefully, this guide has given you some inspiration, and you've found some exercises to try.

Paul J